A cancer scare in early 1989 caused millions of consumers throughout the country to stop buying and eating apples and apple products. The fear was that apples were being sprayed with a cancer-causing chemical. Children, in particular, were thought to be at especially high risk. (Rosen 1990, Sewell 1989) The case remains to this day one of the supreme examples how a combination of environmentalists, public interest lawyers, publicists, and members of the news media can foist a bogus health scare on an unwitting public.
Now, on the twentieth anniversary of The Great Apple Scare, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) means to recall the events that led up to the mass hysteria over apples and explore some of its many ramifications in hopes of preventing another fabricated crisis from fooling a too-gullible public in the future.